It’s been a while since I wrote about vomit, so I think it’s about time I did again. Because who doesn’t like a good puke story?
For this one we’ll need to go back in time–late nineteen eighties/early nineties (I can’t remember for sure. I am old.)–to the fair city of Burley, Idaho. Surely you’ve heard of it, because everyone knows someone from Burley. Apparently they are a prolific people there.
And if you’ve heard of Burley then you’ve no doubt heard of the Cassia County Fair & Rodeo (and carnival, though that part is not in the title). “THE Fair”, as it is more commonly known, is the biggest event of the year.
Of. The. Year.
Which gives you a pretty good idea of how little went on the other 360 days of the calendar.
It always falls on the week before school starts which gives the kids (like me) an opportunity to show off a few of their new school outfits before the official start of the year. You know, like a fall preview fashion show for your fellow classmates and the ex-cons working the rides at the carnival.
It’s also a time to meet up with friends you haven’t seen or talked to very much over the summer because 1) you all have things called jobs, 2)you don’t have a cell phone because, remember, we’ve gone back in time to pre-texting 1989/90, and 3) Mark Zuckerberg is still in diapers, so how could anyone be aware of where you are or what you’re doing?
So there I am at the biggest Fashion Week event west of the Snake River and east of the Nevada border that includes not only farm animals, but also a variety of rickety rides that spin. And how could I resist those? (The rides I mean. I found the animals very resistable). When a ghetto Disneyland is dropped in your backyard once a year, you don’t pass up that kind of fun.
My friends and I–we’ll call them Candice, Steph, Nate, and Jeff–decided to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl. Which, if you are not familiar with, is a poor man’s version of the Tea Cups. You sit in a giant tin can which goes around a track in a circle and then–if you’re really dumb–you make the tin can itself spin around and around as fast as it can. Because you’re 17 and invincible and nothing can make you throw up.
Unless your name is Jeff. And then the Tilt-A-Whirl can make you sick. Very, very sick. So sick, in fact, that you will puke about thirty seconds into the ride. While the ride is still spinning. And spinning. And spinning. Very fast. Which will, essentially, turn the ride into something like those machines that make cotton candy. Except instead of sugar, you add vomit and new school clothes. And nobody wants that flavor of cotton candy.
Especially the carnies who are running the ride. And keep running the ride–ostensibley to rid the tin can of vomit chunks through centrifugal force, though their laughing made me question their motives–even though every time you go by you plead with them to SSTTooopp TTHHHe RRIIIdddeee!!! But of course they only hear ST…
Maybe they misinterpretted those sounds to mean, “Please, kind gentlemen without teeth, let us ride this ride for no less than three minutes or until we are thoroughly covered in puke. Thank you.” Because that’s what they did.
By the time they finally did stop the ride, Jeff was the lone passenger on the left side of the car while everyone else was piled on my lap on the right side. Which worked nicely for me–despite the pain in my legs–because my friends shielded my brand spankin’ paid-for-with-my-own-money new clothes from the flying vomit.
You might think this experience forever ruined the dizzying joy of the Tilt-A-Whirl for me. Wrong. I’ll still go for a whirl occassionally, but not without remembering– and laughing about –that one puke-filled ride.
But it doesn’t take a carnival ride to bring this memory back. Every time life starts getting a little crazy, a picture flashes through my mind of the five us shouting “STOP THE RIDE!” begging to be let off and rueing the moment we decided to get on.
It reminds me of a line I heard somewhere, sometime, from someone: Stop the world. I want to get off.
My life feels like that some times. Like maybe even right now.
You know what, though? It didn’t take us long after we got off that ride to start laughing about it. And I don’t regret going on it.
Sometimes you’ve just gotta hang on and enjoy the ride–even the projectile vomiting part–knowing you’ll laugh about it later.